Services Australia appoints new chief

Services Australia appoints new chief

Rebecca Skinner has been announced as the next CEO of Services Australia, succeeding interim chief Amanda Cattermole.

The appointment comes just three months after the rebadging of the Department of Human Services (DHS) as Services Australia, resulting in the departure of Renée Leon as DHS secretary. Cattermole served as interim CEO over this time.

On announcing Skinner’s appointment, Minister for Government Services Stuart Robert said she “will bring critical capability to the role of the CEO at an important time in the transformation journey of Services Australia”.

Robert also praised Skinner’s successes during her previous roles at the Defence department and the DPMC, having driven “significant reform across the Defence enterprise and [her leading of] the department through a range of crisis response efforts in support of Government”, he said.

Skinner formerly served as assistant secretary, defence and intelligence, at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and as a senior executive in the attorney general’s portfolio.

Most recently she was the Associate Secretary at the Department of Defence. As the principal deputy in the Department, she led Defence enterprise management and marquee programs such as the Defence-ERP, integrated service delivery, people and governance reform.

Skinner will have her work cut out as Services Australia chief, with the reformed department no doubt seeking to distance itself from the recent controversies of its predecessor, including, most infamously, the ‘robo-debt’ scandal (which found the DHS had in several cases acted unlawfully in reclaiming alleged overpayments to welfare recipients). Services Australia also takes on the mammoth task of delivering the whole-of-government service delivery program as well as wholesale transformation of online services, including myGov.

A major restructuring of the public service last year by the Morrison Government resulted in the termination of DHS secretary Renée Leon PSM, alongside four other secretaries from the Communications and Arts, Human Services, Agriculture, Industry and Employment portfolios.

Following the DHS’s rebrand – the first since the agency’s creation in 2004 under the Howard Government – Services Australia now sits as an executive agency under the Department of Social Services.